Main | Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ford Moves Boldly. Maybe.

Times are tough for Ford Motor Co. these days, and advertising critics are buzzing over Ford's new Bold Moves campaign, which Ford says is meant to reach out to many demographics, including nontraditional families. Critics don't know what to make of Ford's Bold Moves website, with its frank acknowledgement of Ford's current financial difficulties.

I'm particularly struck by one spot that features a regulation family of four enjoying a trip to the beach in their new Ford Freestyle SUV. At the end of the spot, Dad gets out of the car with his suitcase, hugs the kids and says carefully to his wife, "Thanks for inviting me this weekend." Mom nods slowly and gives Dad a sad smile, saying, "Sure." Then Mom and the kids drive off, leaving Dad at his apartment.

Critics are seeing this ad as some wacky attempt to reach out to divorced families, as an open acknowledgement from an advertiser, finally, that most people don't live in an Ozzie & Harriet world. There's some talk that kids will respond to seeing families like theirs, whose parents don't live together. But watch the commercial and tell me if you don't also see a possible gay subtext to the scenario. To me, this ad can be read as though Dad has finally come out of the closet, and Mom is regretfully coming to terms with her situation. I don't see any of the usual post-divorce vitriol in Mom's expression, I see resignation. I don't see how the creators of this piece cannot have forseen this interpretation, and therefore I'm giving them tentative applause, until I know better. Am I reading too much into this? What do you think?

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